Outdoor cooking is a fundamental of Australian life. A sausage on a hot grill is a staple, whether at a family gathering, a trip to the hardware store or while exercising our democratic rights. When we're cooking outdoors there are a few simple things to consider. First, most grilled meat and seafood that's been seasoned and cooked well will have a salty and savoury bent, which cries out for an accompaniment with some acidity and a touch of sweetness. Think of piquant mustards and sauerkraut with sausages in German cuisine, South American chimichurri, or the tangy barbecue sauces and coleslaws of the US.
In the same vein is this red cabbage salad, freshened with mustard, parsley and vinegar, sweetened with currants and enriched with shaved parmesan. And don't forget dessert! I always choose something simple and refreshing – if you've got somewhere to keep the drinks cold, then there's room for something sweet, too. These custardy puddings are easy to transport and are a welcome finale to a meaty meal.
Barbecued sausages with red cabbage and mustard salad
Pre-cooking sausages for barbecuing saves stress and time, and avoids the pitfalls of burst snags and burnt ends.
• 8-12 good-quality sausages
• 1 head red cabbage, finely shredded
• 1 red onion, finely sliced
• ¼ cup currants (or raisins)
• 2 tbsp finely shredded parsley
• ½ cup shaved parmesan
• 1 tbsp wholegrain mustard
• 1 clove garlic, minced
• ¼ cup white wine vinegar
• ⅓ cup extra virgin olive oil
Bring a large saucepan of water to a simmer and poach the sausages until cooked through, about 10 minutes, then transfer to a hot barbecue or oiled frying pan and grill or fry until well browned.
For the red cabbage salad, whisk together the ingredients for the dressing until emulsified. Combine the cabbage, onion and currants and toss with the dressing. Scatter with parsley and parmesan and serve with the sausages.
Chilled apricot puddings
Chilled apricot puddings. Photo: William Meppem
A set custard is always a crowd pleaser. If you're worried about turning this out as a set dessert (like crème caramel), skip that step. They're just as good – and just as good-looking – when served in an attractive ramekin.
• 400g ripe apricots, peeled and cut into chunks
• 1 x 375ml can evaporated milk
• 5 eggs
• 1 x 395g can condensed milk
• ½ tsp vanilla extract
• ¾ cup sugar
• 150ml thickened cream, to serve
• cinnamon, to serve
Peel and de-seed the apricots and combine in a blender with the evaporated milk. Blend to a smooth consistency.
Beat the eggs and whisk with the condensed milk and vanilla extract. Add the apricot mixture and whisk to combine, then strain the mixture into a jug. Heat your oven to 170°C. Heat the sugar in a small saucepan over medium heat until it becomes a dark caramel. Pour the caramel into 6 1-cup-capacity ramekins. Allow to harden, then fill the ramekins with the custard mix, leaving about 1cm at the top of each.
Place a wet tea towel inside a large baking dish, then place the ramekins on top. Pour boiling water into the baking dish until it comes halfway up the side of the ramekins. Place in oven and bake for 30 minutes or until the custards are just barely cooked through to the centre. Allow to cool to room temperature, then chill in the fridge for at least 1 hour. To serve, top each one with some cream and sprinkle with cinnamon.